Diocletian, who was an inventor of crimes and a manufacturer of evils, although he destroyed everything else, could not refrain from laying hands even on God. He subverted the world at the same time by both avarice and timidity. He made three men sharers in his power, dividing the world into four parts and multiplying armies, for each one of them strove to have a greater number by far than earlier princes had had when they were sole rulers of the state. The number of receivers had begun to be so much greater than that of givers, the strength of the colonists being sapped by the enormity of impost duties, that fields were deserted and cultivated areas were turned into forests. And in order that all things might be filled with terrors, the provinces, too, were cut up into sections. Many officials and many bureaus were set up in the individual regions, and they burdened almost each city. Likewise, there were many financial officers and magistrates and vicars of prefects. The civil acts of these were very rare; only condemnations and proscriptions were frequent; their exactions of innumerable taxes were, I will not say frequent, but perpetual; and the injuries in these exactions were such as were beyond endurance.
Matters which were concerned with the employing of soldiers were also not to be tolerated. In his insatiable avarice, he wished the treasury to be never diminished, but he was always laying up extraordinary funds and resources in order to keep those funds which he had accumulated preserved intact. When, because of his iniquities, he made things extremely high-priced, he attempted to fix by law the price of saleable goods. Then, on account of scarcity and the low grade of articles, much blood was spilled, and because of fear nothing purchaseable appeared. Therefore, expensiveness raged much worse, until, after the death of many, the law was dissolved by sheer necessity.
To this there was added a certain limitless desire of building, and for supplying all the workers, craftsmen, carts, and whatever was necessary for constructing the works, there was an additional taxing (no less than the others had done) of the provinces. Here, there were basilicas; here, a circus; here, a mint; here, an armory; here, a house for his wife; here, one for his daughter.
All of a sudden, a great part of the city [of Nicomedia] was razed to the ground. All left with their wives and children as though the city were captured by the enemy. And when these works had been com pleted at the price of the ruin of provinces, he said: "They were not done properly; let them be done another way" Again, it was necessary for tearing down and changing and, perhaps, it would fall again. Thus, he kept on going mad, desiring to equal Nicomedia with Rome.
I pass by the fact that many perished for the sake of their having possessions or fortunes. This was usual and generally permitted because of the custom-ariness of evils. That was an outstanding quality in this ruler because wherever he had seen a more cultivated field or more ornate building, then, a charge of calumny and capital punishment was prepared for the owner, as though he could not plunder and steal without bloodshed.
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